Leonard Kress

Equanimity This afternoon, wanting perhaps to catchthe last half easeful death of summerI go to the park that purports to be wild and rhapsodic and descenddown boardwalk steps to the overflowing streamand bench myself on its soggy banks for any number of legit reasons to gaze into my own still muddy waterswhen out of nowhere comes a clamorous series of thuds a hefty pump, a rumble, the very soundI’ve been advised to suspect and fear announces a tornado--having lived two decades in Ohio--wall cloud or funnel touchdownas it chugs down Doppler radar tracks swells and intensifies, spins so recklessly that if it continues—geometric, exponential--which is how my mind is wont to calculate it will compute to herds of buffalothundering across the unsettled plain, mile-longcloud of dust forever to settling (about my mind again) so whenit turns out to be only a dozen or sogirls breezing by, chatty, barely breathless Olympians sports bras and running shorts and matching sneaksI want to shout at them, castigate them(with pony-tails swishing over shoulders) compare them to destructive weather systems or herd migrations, shame them for interrupting my rumination on whether making art means wringing order from chaos or tracking chaos out of order—that perfect disc of oil on the surface of the water, dripped from a ranger’s chain saw, spreadingto polychrome thinness, just enough to highlight a dragonfly’s button-hook across its surfaceso I don’t say anything, no mumble or sotto-voce harrumphthough I wouldn’t have said anything either had it been young men or old men or children—all interruptions are alike, wasn’t I an equal interloper to birds and squirrels, ducks and even the fishthey slip under the surface to catch—and deer as well, certainly disdaining my trespass and having to make their own calculationshow close to come, am I hunter or prey what I might want from themcan I offer anything more than wing powder of dead moths? Great Lakes School of Buddhism Kids from the local arts high schoolplay Chick Corea’s Spain by the lake. Under a tent people go crazy over mangydogs auctioned off. Guitar solo first then trumpet, vibes. A sparrow dipsextra-long in the drinking trough, a spider bites my calf—milk it for allit’s worth, why not. Vibes first, guitar no trumpet. We don’t get round much anymore. Some folks dig jazz, some dig bones. Walmart Sutra At once I realize my cartlike all the others is defective, that itlurches recklessly, leads me astray and aptto smash into other shoppers its left wheel not knowingwhat the wobbly right is doing. It’s astonishing that no stragglingtoddler, peeling foil from his candy kissis struck, my path so erratic and haphazard, it’s stupefyingthat the stacked single-serve crock pots aren’t toppled.Then again, it should not be surprising that Gautama’sFirst Noble Truth, compares all life, lived and unlived,to travel with a broken axle. Leonard Kress has published poetry and fiction in Missouri Review, Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex and Walk Like Bo Diddley. Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems and his new verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz were both published in 2018. Craniotomy appeared in 2019. He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio. www.leonardkress.com